President Trump’s personal lawyer just announced he intends to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights. Michael Cohen’s plan to ‘plead the 5th’ appeared in a sworn statement begging a California court to halt civil court proceedings in the Stormy Daniels case.
In case you’ve forgotten, Donald Trump famously told his followers at a campaign rally that only the “mob takes the 5th Amendment.” (video below)
Michael Cohen now has the dubious distinction of being the first member of the Trump inner circle – who hasn’t already been convicted of a crime – to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid potentially making self-incriminating statements. Ironically, it comes in a defamation lawsuit filed by super lawyer Michael Avenatti, who Daniels hired after Cohen attacked her and called her a liar in the national media.
Daniels’ lawsuit aims to get the court to invalidate her hush money deal altogether on the grounds that Michael Cohen violated federal election laws, which is just one of the potential criminal offenses Trump’s lawyer is facing. That reality is Cohen’s primary motive for his decision regarding his testimony, which he expressed in this sworn statement:
JUST IN: Michael Cohen formally states that he will assert his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination in Stormy Daniels' civil case in California due to the ongoing criminal investigation against him in New York. https://t.co/20IadXjivo pic.twitter.com/11OQk3OVuT
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) April 25, 2018
Michael Cohen’s sworn statement pleading the 5th is a milestone moment. As Trump’s fixer and keeper of secrets, he can’t be convicted in court on the basis of invoking his rights, but it is still a tacit public admission of criminal wrongdoing.
Cohen’s under investigation by the FBI and the Southern District of New York US Attorney’s office for campaign finance violations, bank fraud, and wire fraud.
Stormy Daniels’ lawyer issued this statement about Cohen’s decision.
This is a stunning development. Never before in our nation’s history has the attorney for the sitting President invoked the 5th Amend in connection with issues surrounding the President. It is esp. stunning seeing as MC served as the “fixer” for Mr. Trump for over 10 yrs. #basta
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 25, 2018
Stormy Daniels’ complaint cites criminal wrongdoing as a legal reason to invalidate her hush money agreement with Trump since agreements must have a lawful purpose.
Cohen’s invocation of the Fifth Amendment would seem to hand Stormy Daniels the point in her battle to ditch Trumps hush money deal. Moreover, one has to wonder if Trump’s lawyer could face additional criminal charges under the Hobbs Act, a tough federal extortion law, if Daniels proves all of her allegations in court.
What makes Michael Cohen’s precipitous fall more stunning is that it just doesn’t make sense why he and/or President Trump believed that it was so important to keep his affair with Daniels secret by utilizing thuggish tactics so long after the last election.
Watch Trump’s shameful comments about Michael Cohen here:
Donald Trump on the Fifth Amendment in 09/16:
"The mob takes the 5th amendment. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" pic.twitter.com/Xjb619L7gA
— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) May 22, 2017